Reflection: Animal Communication
Response to Barbara Janelle’s Seminar on Animal Communication
By Rachel Fleming (04/21/14 19:38:43)
Related animal: Dog

I first want to say that I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had so far in this class. I may not hold the same beliefs as some others in the class about mystical or spiritual phenomenon, and I may not have a knack for feeling or understanding abstract or expressive art, but I’ve been diligent about reflecting on each experience and recording my critiques/opinions.

In the last class I can honestly say I tried to keep an open mind and suppress my demands for evidence in order to have new and interesting experiences (as much as I resented doing so). Although I may not have taken away some of the messages that Barbara intended for the class, I have taken away other important messages. What I found is that I learned a great deal about a new kind of spiritual “art” that I didn’t know existed before. I had heard of animal communicators, but had no idea how they went about reading animals. I wondered if it was based on scientific evidence (and if that evidence was sound or pseudoscientific), or if it was something else entirely.

From what I gathered from today, animal communication may be a very broad practice. Some may use communication methods that were developed scientifically, while others may solely rely on nonscientific, telepathic sensing and feeling. I honestly do not think that the telepathic techniques are in any way possible, which was mostly what I saw today. The notion of being able to actually put oneself into another body using imagination is (I’m terribly sorry) not possible. I was very glad when Mona asked a question about how to know if the signals we were getting were internal. That was a great question. I personally think that any signals or thoughts that crossed our minds today when pretending to be another animal were made up by our own brains…similar to what they do when we are dreaming. There has to be a neuroscientific explanation for this effect. The act of picturing oneself as another, though, is not useless. In fact, it is something everyone should do or at least consider regularly. Thinking about the needs of others and being sensitive to the emotions and responses of those around us is a great life skill. I’ve heard it called “emotional intelligence.”

The tree exercise was different. At first I wasn’t entirely happy that I needed to go talk to a tree. Interestingly, I knew I would get the sense that everyone else probably got from being near a tree. They do seem to have a sort of “presence.” Even I’ll admit that. However, this could be due to a multitude of things going on psychologically in our heads. When I walked away from my tree, I noticed only a change in temperature, which others may have felt but interpret differently. When I put my back to the tree, I felt a sense of comfort. However, I can feel the same kind of comfort from an inanimate object, such as a pillow against my back on my bed. I was careful in my interpretations of sensations. Although near the end of the encounter I was sort of over the idea of connecting with a tree, I did ask it a question….what is the meaning of life? My “response” was: sunlight. Ha…

Anyway, I kept feeling uncomfortable due to the unscientific nature of the seminar and couldn’t shake my skepticism. I have been trained to question everything I hear, and every scientific bone in my body was aching at some point during the experience. That sounds whiney but I really did feel quite uncomfortable. This was especially due to the fact that I LIKED Barbara. She’s so nice and has the most relaxing voice I’ve ever heard. It was like listening to piano music. I felt as though I was in a native Chumash tribe and that I was listening to an elder speak. Because I liked her (and also because I wanted to be polite to our guest) I didn’t want to offend her in any way and it was difficult for me to hide my expressions knowing she could probably tell that I was tense by my closed body language. I withheld many of my comments because I didn’t want to come off as being sarcastic, having already told the class earlier that I thought telepathy was crazy.

I did walk away with important new insights. I thought about how my relationships with humans and nonhumans could improve by remembering to put myself in their shoes. I also will try to put myself in the present and sense my surroundings as a way to relieve stress. This may be incredibly useful…I’ve been reading articles on stress relief for some time and have a new strategy to try. However, I think the most important takeaway from this experience was learning about my personal response to the information being presented to me. My reactions, feelings, and opinions about the topic provided me with insight about my values and thinking process. I value peace amongst differing minds and logical conclusions based on solid evidence.

I’m sorry to say that I will not be trying to communicate with an animal telepathically in the future. It would just be too uncomfortable for me. I would feel guilt for behaving in a way that a professional scientist would not, and this may cause a bit of internal conflict. Instead, I will think of an alternative. Since the goal is to gather information from another species, I will read the animal externally. I’ll comment on the degree by which I think my interpretation of the behavior was correct or incorrect. I hope this is alright.

Also, I keep wondering if others think I’m being closed-minded. I doubt anyone other than Lisa reads my entries, but here’s a note on that issue. When the information from Barbara’s talk was registering in my brain, it was not hitting a brick wall. It was hitting a filter, and very few points went through. Open-minded does not mean accepting everything you hear. It means considering everything and then making a conscious choice about whether or not you will accept it.

[Write Comment]

Comment by LisaJ (04/26/14 15:09:27):
Great comments Rachel. I really appreciate how you are working on creating an understanding of your own thinking, reactions and believes. I actually also have a good amount of skepticism in me, but for me that makes me want to engage with this stuff more. Its like I have two completely different sides that wants to argue with eachother all the time…yes it does get exhausting.